Buried in Monday's BEA report on Personal Income is some good news in "Table 10. Real Disposable Personal Income and Real Personal Consumption Expenditures: Percent Change From Month One Year Ago." (See chart above.) Following two months of negative growth in August and September 2008, real disposable personal income increased in each month of the last quarter, ending in December 2008 with 1.3% growth compared to December 2007. Maybe 1.3% growth in real disposable personal income is not great, but at least it's positive and at least the trend is going in the right direction: up.
The personal saving rate has increased in each of the last four months and reached a 7-month high of 3.6% in December (see chart below), as consumers were able to save $378.6 billion in December (on an annual basis), an amount approximately equal to the annual savings for consumers from falling gas prices.